Creative insights: a campaign through time

Marianne interviews Senior Designer Meg, Copywriter Chloe, Creative Director Nic, Artworker Debs, and Account Director Emily about our recent project for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Q. Tell me a bit about the background of the project?
Each year, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) launches a visual marketing campaign designed to encourage people to visit Shakespeare’s family homes. This year, they were looking to compete on a much larger scale than they had previously, encouraging people to visit on a national level.

Q. What was the aim of the project?
Our challenge was to create a confident on-brand campaign with a wide reach, engaging audiences and appealing to a broad range of people. SBT aim to be inclusive of everyone – from families to history buffs, gardening enthusiasts to students.

To stay within the project budget, the campaign needed to be appropriate for a broad audience rather than specifically tailoring adverts to individual group’s interests. The campaign spanned multiple media platforms, including print, online, interactive ads, and video.

Q. What was the biggest challenge?
Chloe: Everything we make and every word I write always has to work hard. This was an especially interesting challenge because of the myriad pathways a potential visitor could be on when they come across this campaign.

Meg: Crafting a confident and focused message that still managed to capture the many facets and attractions of SBT. Also, coordinating our efforts with an external media agency and a variety of digital suppliers who were adapting the campaign into their niche formats.

Q. Tell me a bit more about the creative process and how we got to the final design?
As the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was looking to compete and establish a presence at a national level, we first looked at their competitors’ marketing activity. This research showed that the majority of iconic attractions used experience-led advertising. Based on this insight, we felt an important aspect of the new campaign should be to focus on visitor experience.

The next step was to look at how we could bring SBT’s offering to life: how can we most effectively capture a whole experience – both the fun and more “reverent” aspects? We wanted to emphasise the Trust’s important history in the campaign, but we also needed to celebrate what they have to offer future generations.

As an overarching message, we worked to present Shakespeare as timeless – emphasising past, present, and future. We used simple and single-minded messaging across all touchpoints for a compelling and memorable campaign message.

The chosen visuals had a mix of different focuses for different publications, to suit the intended audience. For example, centring on the Trust’s gardens for nature-lovers and Mary Arden’s Farm for animal-lovers. Our core image featured a woman in historical dress with the backdrop showcasing both the architecture and natural beauty at SBT.

The visuals for video transitioned from traditional costume to centring on the modern visitor experience, highlighting the past, present, and future of the Trust. The imagery featured people of all different ages with an emphasis on SBT’s diverse offering, allowing everyone to see themselves at the Trust (from the family-orientated to history enthusiasts).

The imagery worked as a visual cue alongside the copy, articulating the SBT’s offering in an engaging, reflective, and authentic manner.

Q. How do you feel about the final result?
The campaign is confident, emotive, and stays true to the SBT brand. The digital media plans and collateral present them with a number of different options.

The campaign is still ongoing, so it’s difficult to gauge the full impact. However, initial signs are really promising: to date, visitor numbers are up 4% and digital and social advertising is performing above the industry benchmark.

Chloe: I love seeing the idea come to life in so many different ways, and it’s great to hear that the Trust is seeing a positive impact.

Meg: Pleased to see it come together and look forward to seeing it out in the world. I’ve downloaded the Gardener’s World magazine on my Kindle to get a look at one of our ‘print’ ads in situ!

Q. What was the most enjoyable aspect of this project?
Chloe: I most enjoyed coming up with different ways to express the SBT experience in a rounded way. I love the final route, and there was some stuff that really tickled me in our initial ideas – including mentions of a subject dear to my heart and crucial to any heritage tourism offering: scones!

Meg: It was a great project for teamwork: with initial concept development with Chloe and Nic being particularly engaging, followed by crafting the video with Debs, banners with Dan, and the ever-efficient Emily keeping it all together and on track.

“We asked mark-making* to develop an engaging, impactful, multi-platform campaign with the aim of driving visitors to Shakespeare’s family homes and positioning us as a go-to destination for audiences across the UK. We’ve been really impressed with the creative and are seeing a positive impact with an increase in visitors to both the family homes and our website.”

– David Wright, Head of Marketing, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

About markmaking*

mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications